A new brand called House of Word has joined the evolving “specialty instant” coffee scene, offering a dehydrated coffee product made through a proprietary all-cold method.
The primary author of New York-based House of Word is Jonathan Drezner, previously the director of retail and marketing for Devoción Coffee, a roasting and retail company with operations straddling Brooklyn and Bogotá, Colombia.
Drezner, who was born and raised in Bogotá, told Daily Coffee News that House of Word was built by his own desire to try something new in a field he believes has not placed enough emphasis on quality.
House of Word has launched with one granulated brew made from a blend of washed arabica coffees grown by a collective of small farms in the Kodagu and Chikmagalur districts of Karnataka, in the Western Ghats of South India.
“I love Colombia and its coffee, but after working strictly with 100% Colombian coffee for so long, the interest and curiosity to explore the world’s coffee was too intriguing to pass on,” Drezner told DCN. “For this initial phase, I chose India and this specific region as it is a region of immense global importance for the conservation of biological diversity. These farms sit on a mountain range that is older than the Himalayas and is recognized as one of the world’s eight ‘hottest hotspots’ of biological diversity.”
Reflecting a desire to minimize environmental impact on this side of the coffee chain, House of Word’s products come only in bags, as opposed to single-serve packets, in packaging and shipping materials are made of recycled and/or biodegradable materials, including “plant-based” adhesives and labels.
Current bag sizes range from 50 grams, which produces approximately 16 cups of hot coffee or 1 gallon of cold brew, to 300 grams, making 100 cups or 6 gallons. Prices range from $16 to $46 pre-shipping.
Said Drezner, “We are also working on an innovative and 100% sustainable packaging concept that we feel will be a game changer in the space.”
The specialty instant category combines some of the selling points of the specialty coffee or “Third Wave” movements, such as geographical origin or distinct flavor notes, with some form of soluble brewing solution. The category can reasonably be traced back about six years to the launch of competing brands Swift Cup Coffee and Sudden Coffee.
While Swift Cup has since gained momentum through business-to-business channels, providing products for partnering roasting companies, Sudden Coffee ceased operations in 2020, despite raising $2.7 million just four years prior.
Another early specialty instant player was Voila, which has also ceased operations. More recent U.S.-based entrants to the specialty instant category include California’s Waka Coffee & Tea and Oklahoma’s Coracle Coffee.
House of Word, meanwhile, maintains a roasting and manufacturing partner in India. In a single facility, the roasted beans are ground, brewed and dehydrated using a heat-free method Drezner said involves only cold water and pressure.
While House of Word plans to have consistent year-round offerings, the company also expects to explore additional coffees produced with various post-harvest processes moving forward.
“We want to showcase coffees from different regions and processes using this method of instant,” said Drezner. “We like this initial blend as it’s a great entry-level, super chocolatey coffee. Once we start growing, I would like to start including funkier coffees, like for example natural processed Geshas would be amazing with this method.”
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Howard Bryman is the associate editor of Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine. He is based in Portland, Oregon.